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New school choice legislation announced for Kentucky

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 11:38 AM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - An expansion to the controversial school choice bill passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2021 will go before the legislature this year.

The bill, in part, aims at making money available for students and parents to get tuition assistance for private education.

Previous versions of this bill have come up in other legislative sessions, but Senator Ralph Alvarado, (R)-Winchester, says now is the time to make sure that all parents and students across the commonwealth have access and opportunities to the education they want.

“If you want to be fair about things, I think you have to be equitable and give as many people that same opportunity as you can,” said Sen. Alvarado.

The expansion to the school choice bill that was passed in 2021 will give more students and parents access to tuition assistance for nonpublic schools, as well as making Kentuckians in every zip code eligible for this assistance.

Sen. Alvarado and Rep. Josh Calloway, (R)-Irvington, are sponsoring the bill. They say this will make it affordable for lower and middle-income Kentuckians to give their students the education they want.

“You have the choice if you’re wealthy. If you’re not wealthy, if you’re either lower income or middle income you don’t have the same choices that wealthy Kentuckians have,” said Sen. Alvarado. “Public schools are great. You know we have a lot of kids who do well, and parents love their public schools. Public schools are wonderful, I represent a lot of excellent ones in our district, but it’s not always the best choice for every child and every parent.”

The Kentucky Education Association is opposed to the proposed school voucher bill.

“KEA opposes all voucher/tax credit schemes, including those announced today,” said KEA President Eddie Campbell in a statement. “The Kentucky General Assembly should be focused on fully funding its current obligations to public education instead of incurring new obligations like tax credits that could cost Kentucky taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.”

Sen. Alvarado says that this bill has bipartisan support at this point, and he plans to bring it up during the legislative session. The new expansion would also put in a provision to raise the $25 million cap donations if demand for that money goes up.

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